Got night sights?

You should. You need them.

At our recent GSL Defense Training Intermediate Personal Protection class, we took 14 shooters onto the range in low-light and very low-light conditions. Just as we’ve seen time and time again in the past, the difference in hits on target between those with night sights and those without proved profound.

At a mere five yards, those without night sights (or handguns equipped with a red dot sight) had difficulty making solid hits. In fact, they missed the not-quite man-sized targets a lot and their hits oftentimes struck non-vital regions of their bad guys.

Image via Action Target.

Making matter worse, they needed to use a flashlight more extensively beyond a momentary flash to identify a target. They needed more “on time” to help them line up their sights on target. We all know that in a gun battle, a flashlight may as well be spelled “bullet magnet.”

Tritium-powered night sights look like this in the dark. Stick with green as you’ll get 15 years’ life out of them. Other colors will die off after about seven years.

Meanwhile, the students with night sights? The great majority of their rounds found their marks, and if they had already positively identified a threat, they didn’t need their flashlights at all to engage. And for the record, any time you can shoot with both hands on the gun, hit percentages improve significantly.


It’s not all bad news…
The good news if you have a stock defensive pistol without night sights? With a modicum of skill and practice, you can hit a man-sized target at (smallish) room-length distances in darkness or near-darkness. Just know your limitations.


Where to find aftermarket night sights.
The tritium night sights can be found at your local gun shop, or on Amazon, or other internet vendors if you don’t have a gun shop nearby. Expect to pay about $125 for the sights and $25 to $50 for installation.

This is NOT a “do it yourself” project. Have someone with the proper tools, experience and expertise do this. Don’t be like a friend of mine and fellow instructor who did his own as a newbie. He pulled his gun out at class one day and the tritium front sight had fallen off because he didn’t Loc-Tite and properly tighten the tiny nut. Oops. Yeah, you can run your pistol without a front sight but I don’t recommend it.


Red dots. Oh yeah!
Admittedly, our student with a red dot did very well in low light. He and others I know with them do well enough that it causes me to flirt with buying some pistol red-dots. At the same time I recognize I’m an old(er) dog less than excited about learning new tricks. After shooting a few tens of thousands of rounds with my Glocks and similar pistols over the years, I’m afraid I’d default to instincts in any “aw shucks, I’m about to die” moments.

For someone in their teens or twenties? Yeah, I’d be all over defensive pistols with red dots like a squirrel on a pile of shelled walnuts. Target acquisition is fast, precise and definitive in any light if you’re skilled in proper gun presentation.

If you already belong to the red dot master race, make sure you stay up on replacing the battery and have extra batteries on hand.


Final thoughts.
Given the state of our state, and the coming January 1st jail break with the new “No Cash Bail” law, increasing crime has become just as certain as death and taxes. Prudence demands you prepare for potential threats to you and your family so as to maximize your safety.

Install night sights on your defensive pistols. And, frankly, your defensive long guns (shotguns and rifles) as well. Your life is worth it.


One thought on “In Praise of Night Sights”
  1. Red dot is amazing for low light in my exprience, so are various laser sights(far superior to having a huge flashlight mount). Smaller night sights are okay, but it’s matter of preference I guess.

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